New Zealand’s first hydrogen-powered bus was unveiled on Tuesday (30th March) by Auckland Transport (AT) as the organisation looks to decarbonise its fleet of public transport.
The bus was unveiled by the Minister of Transport Michael Wood and Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff at Ports of Auckland – where the bus will be refuelled with green hydrogen.
The bus, built by Global Bus Ventures (GBV) and powered by Ballard Power Systems’ technology, will provide capacity for up to 78 passengers and will be operated with Howick and Eastern Buses by Transdev for an initial two-year trial on route 70 from Botany to Britomart via Panmure.
AT said it commissioned the production of the hydrogen fuel cell bus at the cost of $1.175m in response to Ports of Auckland’s invitation to participate in the Hydrogen Demonstration Project.
The three-axle bus, which is AT’s biggest single deck bus, will be used to trial operational performance and see how operating costs compare to diesel and electric buses of similar configurations.
Phil Goff, Mayor for Auckland, said, “In Auckland, transport makes up 40% of the city’s overall carbon emissions. While our focus has been on electrification of vehicles and buses, it is important that we also explore the option of replacing diesel buses with hydrogen-powered vehicles.”
“These produce zero-emissions and could complement our electric bus fleet.”
Auckland Transport’s Metro Decarbonisation Manager Darek Koper said AT’s involvement in purchasing the hydrogen bus was to prove to the market that hydrogen buses can be developed to meet New Zealand’s unique operational and design requirements, and to help in the development of hydrogen as a fuel.
“Through the development of the Low Emission Bus Roadmap, Auckland Transport identified hydrogen as a potential fuel for Auckland’s future low emission public transport fleet. The outcome of this two-year trial will help operators make informed decisions about which technology should be selected,” Koper said.
Tony Gibson, Port of Auckland Chief Executive, highlighted the refuelling of green hydrogen aspect, “Refuelling in the future will be done next to a new electrolyser plant – producing green hydrogen here on site.”
It is estimated that the cost of the full transition to zero-emission (including EV and hydrogen) is expected to cost between $150m to $200m.